Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Christmas Reflection: January 5th

(I Jn 3:11-21; Jn 1:43-51)

Don’t you wish you could have been there ... could have seen the disciples in person? Or even Jesus himself? I hear people say that every once in a while. Wouldn’t it have been something to meet Peter or to have a conversation with Matthew? What if we could go back in time and listen to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount? We do this with a sense of healthy curiosity and perhaps the idea that it would be easier to believe the Gospel if we could have seen the Gospel events unfold before our very eyes.

However, I’m not convinced that seeing the disciples first-hand would make the Gospel any easier to believe. In fact, seeing the disciples might just make the Gospel more DIFFICULT to believe! Remember, the disciples were more “crusty” than “upper crust.” They weren’t very educated— or well groomed—or outwardly impressive. In other words, they were pretty common folks. So, can it really be that this rag-tag bunch of uneducated fishermen was in touch with the deepest truth and faith in Jesus?

Most everyone has a soft spot in their hearts for fairy tales. There’s just something about a fairy tale's reversal of expectations that captures our attention. There’s something fantastic about finding out that the frog is really some handsome prince, or that the ugly duckling is the one that grows into the most resplendent swan. Fairy tales are stories of transformation, and that’s exactly what happened to these simple people we call disciples. If you took the disciples and brought them together into one room, you’d never in your wildest dreams guess by looking at them that this weak-looking pack of ordinary folks could change the world. But that’s exactly what they did! The disciples changed the world because it was to them that the truth of salvation was first revealed in Jesus Christ.

That’s why Jesus called them in the first place. If you’re going to save the world, you’ve got to start somewhere. And if in the end you’re going to save the world through humility, gentleness, compassion and sacrifice, it makes a whole lot of sense to begin with a bunch of people who couldn’t get much more humble if they tried! The messengers fit the message! In fact, over the course of his ministry if Jesus had any significant struggles with his disciples, it was the struggle to keep them humble and ordinary. Every time a couple of them began a power struggle or argument among themselves about who was the greatest, Jesus brought them back down to the street level of service.

And that’s the bottom line, I believe, to being a follower of Jesus. To be transformed into a humble, gentle, compassionate person who continues Jesus’ mission of service, who continues washing our sisters’ and brothers’ feet. This is what our faith calls us to— the realities of a very real and sad world. But, helping one person at a time, we continue the mission of Jesus and his rag-tag bunch of ordinary, but brilliantly transformed disciples.

– Fr. Blase Romano, T.O.R.